The idea started out as small talk between sophomore Tanner Johnston and Davis Richardson. Together, they tossed around plans and dreams of a tiny home, until Johnston came across a video about a college student who built a mobile tiny house to live in while in school. At the time, Johnston did not think much of sharing the article with Richardson, but over the course of the summer, hundreds of sketches and drawings became blueprints for a tiny house that would eventually be featured on an episode on DIY’s “Tiny House, Big Living” show.
“I thought it was a joke for a long time.” Johnston said. “He’d show me his sketchbook and I said ‘Oh yeah, that’d be cool to do some day.'”
Richardson, however, was fixated on the idea, and over the summer he talked with his parents about the project and decided to commit by taking out a $20,000 loan to cement the project and finding the base of a trailer to build his dream tiny home on. From there, it was a matter of timing for the duo, who were eager to begin building.
“We saw that there was a casting call for people who were planning on building (a tiny home) in the future or had already started the build.” Johnston said. “So we went ahead and applied, had a couple Skype interviews, and sure enough, we got the part.”
Filming the episode took eight days, working from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. at times. During most of the construction, Richardson and Johnston worked alone, but near the end of the build, some of their close friends were able to come and help, one being sophomore Blake Boggs who grew up with Richardson and was Johnson’s roommate.
“I had a couple weeks before school started, and Davis and Tanner had finished up a lot of the foundation and walls,” Boggs said. “I was just there to help.”
Richardson’s idea for the home was heavily influenced by minimalist style, only costing him $20,000, which is quite economical compared to other tiny homes on the market.
“Compared to some other tiny houses, they’ll go through a professional service that’ll cost $50,000 to even $90,000, depending on the size and square footage.”
The episode aired on Jan. 12. Since then, Johnston has been recognized for his time in the limelight, mainly on social media by his friends, but has had interactions with strangers who noticed him from the show.
“It was cool to be recognized for all that hard work.” Johnston said. “There was one case where there was a lady who I never met before who recognized me from the show, and it was just one of the weirdest things. I had never seen her before, but it was cool that she watched.”
The episode was the third filmed in the fourth season of “Tiny House, Big Living” can be found on HGTV’s website.